Political Correctness strikes at the National Trust

the national trust

Don’t get me wrong.  I have a high regard for the National Trust. I’m a Life Member — and have been for years.  I’ve had enormous enjoyment from visiting their properties — and their tea rooms — up and down the country.  I imagine that if I ever get to retire, I will spend sunny summer afternoons sitting on a Lutyens bench in some corner of a beautifully-tended National Trust garden — and probably doing the Telegraph cross-word.

When the NT does what it says on the tin, preserving our cultural heritage and fine country houses, and opening them to the public, it does a great job.  I think those critics who claim that the NT “Disneyfies” these heritage properties are probably over-stating their case.  The NT has also distinguished itself in the fight against wind farm applications in historic landscapes, most notably (in the East Midlands at least) at Lyveden New Bield

And yet, and yet…   Every so often the Trust gets carried away by political correctness — and I suspect it infuriates a large chunk of its membership.  It certainly infuriates me.  A few years ago it decided that it would ban hunting, even on land that had been gifted to the Trust on the explicit condition that hunting would continue.  If it felt that strongly about the issue, and was determined to flout the express wishes of donors, surely it should have done the decent thing and returned the land concerned to the estates or descendents of the donors.  And anyway, it’s there to preserve our heritage, not to impose modish fads on the large areas of land in its custody.

And now we read that it proposes “to campaign more aggressively for action against climate change”.  It even has the effrontery to suggest that it is putting its 350,000 members “in the front line of the fight against climate change”. I’m one of those 350,000 members, and I absolutely reject and repudiate its position.  Dame Helen Ghosh, the Director General of the NT, says “All the evidence we have at the trust shows that the biggest threat we face is to biodiversity and wildlife”.  It is not clear to me, as an NT member, how their duty to preserve heritage properties and landscape can be primarily concerned with wildlife and biodiversity (in many Trust properties, wildlife is part of the threat, from bat-poo to beetles).  Nor is it clear that loss of biodiversity is primarily about climate — others might point the finger at galloping urbanisation and development, population pressure, and intensive farming practices.

Dame Helen needs to recall that the recent slight warming (which no sane person denies) is entirely consistent with similar cycles in history — the Mediæval Warm Period, the Roman Optimum, the Minoan Optimum, the Holocene Maxima.  Biodiversity (and polar bears) survived those natural, cyclical events perfectly well, and will do again.

But Dame Helen’s big beef is coastal erosion, which is obviously due to climate change — isn’t it?  Isn’t the sea level rising?

Yes.  The sea level is rising — very slowly.  At the beginning of the current Interglacial, ten to twelve thousand years ago, sea level rose very rapidly indeed, driven by ice melt.  It inundated much of the North Sea area, which had previously been dry land with a significant early human population.  It created the English Channel (which some might consider a very positive development).  And the rate of sea level rise has been slowing ever since, so that today it is close to zero.

Coastal erosion has not been uniquely a feature of the post-Industrial Revolution period.  Perhaps the most significant example on the East Coast in the last thousand years was the prosperous port town of Dunwich in Suffolk, which largely disappeared in the thirteenth century, half a millennium before the industrial revolution, and seven hundred years before four-by-fours started emitting CO2.

The apparent sea level rise in Eastern England (including the Thames barrier and the possible risk to London) is not so much about sea level rise — more about tectonic plate movement.  England, and especially Eastern England, is slowly sinking, while Scotland seems to be rising  (Sorry, Alex Salmond, we’re talking geology, not politics).

Further from home, the periodic flooding in Bangladesh is often quoted as evidence of the damage from “man-made climate change”.  But in fact the Indian tectonic plate (including Bangladesh on its eastern margin) is being subducted under the Burma platelet, which seems to be the key problem.  Not so much sea level rising as tectonic plate dropping.

My advice to Dame Helen: don’t listen to the Just-So stories from the green lobby.  The world is much more complicated than that.  Oh, and please stick to your core mission, rather than trying to dragoon your membership into backing policies that many of them find naïve and dangerous.

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24 Responses to Political Correctness strikes at the National Trust

  1. Philip Rock says:

    Those people who set themselves up in opposition to climate change and attempt to do so on the presumption and acceptance of the false evidence that climate change is substantially due to human activity set themselves up in opposition to nature herself.
    What a banal action on the part of (otherwise sensible?) so called intelligent human beings.
    I suppose those otherwise intelligent human beings get one positive thing out of it for themselves: assured jobs for life, because they will never beat Mother Nature.


    actually, no, we won’t, there’s nothing “politically correct” about hunting. it’s just a nature trust protecting nature. same with the global warming. grow up, Roger.

  3. George Morley says:

    Great comment Roger and perhaps more people should write to the lady pointing out that she should just get on with her job and stop fiddling with other concerns in her private life but not in her public one at the expense of the members and their contributions which do nit support her invalid arguments.

  4. Thomas Fox says:

    Areas in North West England eg River Ribble Estuery also Southport , sand dunes are building land by fine silica sand blowing onto the shore line , so erosion by the sea is not the case ?

  5. Not sure how relevant a solar armageddon is except perhaps to emphasise the power of the sun.
    Terrific piece Robert. It’s fantastic that Ukip are hanging onto their anti-green credentials at least, thanks largely to you.

    I’d like to take the opportunity to say I’m not a fan of Ukip’s anti-immigration opportunism (as I see it).

    I’m forever anti-EU, unless it magically morphs into an EFTA-principled body – fat chance. But I’m in favour of open borders, and while I appreciate the EU forbids migration controls, the cause of problems is the welfare state being open to all. They need to have insurance of their own. (I’m anti-welfare state as well; I’d prefer to have control over my health issues etc and what I spend on it rather than government and bureaucrats.)

    Immigration works both ways though (absent the welfare factor). They represent more demand, more customers for our economy and businesses, as well as supplying more workforce – so they provoke the need for ADDITIONAL jobs to meet the demand they have, as well as replacing some people in their present work.

    For me the EU issue trumps everything. I just think it’s a shame that Ukip have found the prejudice over immigration too irresistible.

  6. Flyinthesky says:

    Why can’t these bodies stay within their remit, my membership has recently expired, I shan’t be renewing it.
    Same with the RSPCA, WWF, greenpeace et al all going political, I wouldn’t give them a penny.

  7. auralay says:

    I understand the good Dame was a lifetime civil servant.
    So how did she get the job and what can NT members do to get rid of her?
    If she can be voted out then I might cosider joining to add my bit. Otherwise, then I suggest you withdraw your support.

  8. auralay says:

    I might even consider joining. Sorry!

  9. `David says:

    I like your rebuttal Roger.

  10. Jane Davies says:

    So this woman has spoken to all of the members of the NT then has she, or at the very least taken a poll? I’m inclined to think not, so she needs to concentrate her mind on the matters concerning the NT and stop meddling in other concerns. I wonder if she is familiar with the old saying ” A jack of all trades but a master of none”.

  11. As a long-term NT member and volunteer at a magnificent NT property, I am astonished at Dame Ghosh’s views. By far the greatest threat WE face is over-development of housing, and the subsequent loss of wildlife and environmental quality from Too Many Houses, built without thought or consideration for the needs of the local population.

  12. AbsolutelyPassionate says:

    If the NT has accepted properties in trust with caveats then the stipulations contained therein should be adhered to or the property returned to the donor or their heirs or successors.

  13. Ian Terry says:

    Roger well done yet again for raising common sense concerns. Like you i am a member and it really pisses me off when at a throw my name is added to being a supporter of such crap.
    Once again we have a person with whatever background who has achieved a very high position in an organisation taking into their head to bring in “world changing policy” The membership who don’t agree with this “I will use your belief in the NT to adopt these policies” to write to her and call for her to fall on her sword or we will be resigning. As stated previously this is not what I thought along with 1000s of others is what the NT is all about. She must go

  14. Katie says:

    The estate which our local national trust property occupies has now got loads of solar panels installed everywhere. No doubt a nice little income. Agree Roger. She should not be making this stance without asking members first. I do believe a good many of us would tell her to sling her hook. I get fed up with people ramming this down my throat all the time. There are so many programmes I just cannot watch or will watch until I hear the phrase climate change and then switch off both mentally and using the switch!!

  15. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Is there big money appearing in their account by chance? Or to be given if the NT goes off/adds to TORs as this post. That may more than counter membership loss and so they’ll rumble on akin to the RSPCA/BBC.

    It really beggars belief that such one time respected (somewhat benign) organisations such as the NT rapidly become very threatening. And threatening they are, as we witness daily. National Trust….the last word seems to have changed meaning?

  16. Brin Jenkins says:

    When the Trust was first set up after WW2 many of the old family estates were being badly affected by socialism and death duties. These taxes could not always be paid and land was being sold off to raise money. The Inland Revenue did deals taking many estates into public ownership for the National Trust in lieu of taxes, these unpaid taxes were then covered by the common tax payer, of which I was one. I feel that the Trust has betrayed the tax paying public who are in fact the real owners owners now. Its run as a private club for those who are fee paying members, and not the public.

    Charities have been taken over by Common Purpose Graduates, Political Correctness abounds now at all levels.

  17. clairethinker says:

    Yes, a lot of political-correctness is about people wangling themselves jobs for life. Every city and county council now has to have a climate change advisor paid a salary just to tell other people to switch things off. And there are countless other “equality advisors” and that sort of thing, often paid rather generously. You may ask, what harm does it do? Well, plenty, starting with this: either our taxes go up or the real, essential jobs have to be cut to provide funding for all these tiresome PC agendas. Much of the push for it (not all but quite a lot) comes from the EU.

  18. Pingback: “Don’t Call Us Racist! It’s Offensive!” | TheCritique Archives

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